Rare is the chance to create something utterly new in the Canadian market, so when the federal government declared that on Oct. 17, 2018, the recreational use of cannabis would become legal, it was as though it had announced the start date for the birth of a new industry. And the pull has been gravitational. Senior marketing talent from sectors like alcohol, CPG and advertising agencies have joined the green rush.
David Bigioni was first among them. Formerly vp of sales at Molson Coors, where he spent more than seven years in senior marketing roles, he joined Canopy Growth Corp. in August 2017 as chief commercial officer. Canopy—which has captured almost a third of Canada’s cannabis market, according to Canadian newspaper the Financial Post—distributes medical cannabis to five continents and holds a portfolio of leading brands including Craftgrow, DNA Genetics, DOJA, Maitri, Spectrum Therapeutics, Tokyo Smoke, Tweed and Van der Pop.
“What I saw was the opportunity to do work at a global level that not a lot of marketers are doing in terms of leading brand development, innovation and championing brands that are born and raised in Canada,” he said. “The ability to own and create an industry from the ground level is really enticing. You hear of people moving to this industry daily.”
For Zack Grossman—who held senior marketing positions at Johnson & Johnson before joining craft cannabis company FIGR, an East Coast brand that supports local farmers and allows consumers to track and trace their cannabis throughout its lifecycle via its Sentri platform—after 10 years of working on legacy pharma brands, the ability to enter an industry that was so new and growing so quickly was an